Elderberries have been used for thousands of years as both food and medicine. The fruit of the flowering plant Sambucus nigra, or elderberries themselves, pack a serious punch of nutrients and antioxidants and possess some serious health benefits, the most famous one being they’re excellent at flu and common cold prevention.
Elderberries Health Benefits
Before we delve into the many health benefits of elderberries, it’s important to note that most of the berries in the genus mentioned above – Sambucus – are in fact toxic. They, along with leaves and branches, contain small amounts of cyanide, so it’s wise to practice caution when picking and consuming elderberries. Always get yourself familiar with the tree you’re picking fruit from, and always cook the elderberries themselves. Of course, you can completely avoid all this by purchasing elderberries from well-reputable brands.
Highly nutritious: Elderberries are rich in various vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, C, B, potassium, iron and phosphorus. They’re also packed with high amounts of dietary fiber and plant protein.
Anti-inflammatory: Elderberries are high in natural antioxidants and various plant compounds that have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Good for digestion: Since they contain plenty of dietary fiber, elderberries are excellent for digestion. They can reduce bloating, flatulence and constipation.
Great for heart health: Elderberries have been shown to reduce the bad cholesterol, LDL, and improve the good cholesterol, HDL. They also help prevent arterial plaque.
The ultimate cold and flue reliever: Most of all, elderberries have been shown to provide a major relief from common cold and flu symptoms, as they’re excellent for boosting the immune system. Several studies have shown that elderberry extract can relieve symptoms of flu and cold.
Elderberries and Cold Prevention
As mentioned, elderberries have science-backed cold and flu relieving properties. According to Dr. Madeline Mumcuoglu of Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, elderberry extract can inhibit several strains of influenza virus, and reduce the flu symptoms. If taken before infection, the extract can even prevent colds and flu.
One clinical trial showed that 20% of the participants reported significant health improvement within 24 hours of taking the elderberry extract, while 90% reported complete recovery within 3 days. For reference, placebo-taking participants took 6 days to recover.
To use elderberry for cold and flu prevention and for other health benefits, you can easily make your own elderberry syrup.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
To prepare this healing and health-boosting syrup, you’ll need:
- 2 cups dried Elderberries
- 2 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup raw honey
- 1 TBSP fresh or dried ginger root
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp clove powder.
- Place the water along with all the ingredients – except for honey – in a large saucepan,
- Bring the mixture to boil and leave it to simmer on low heat for 40 min,
- Remove the mixture from heat and mash the elderberries,
- Strain the mixture, add honey and stir well,
- Pour the syrup into a container with a lid and refrigerate.
Take half a teaspoon to one teaspoon of this syrup as a part of colds and flu prevention, or two to three teaspoons if you already exhibit the symptoms.